Bounties of the harvest, the crisp air, the smell of pumpkin spice, the sharp tang of apple cider and the changing of the leaves are all signs that autumn is bursting on the scene in Northeast Ohio. This is a time of reflection for those who are, perhaps, worn down by the rushing around of summer. It’s also a great time for those who enjoy winter sports because they know that colder days and snow-covered hills are just around the corner. Regardless of how you feel when the seasons began to change, nothing holds restorative powers quite like immersing yourself in the forest. Towner’s Woods, part of The Portage County Park District, seems reserved especially for the occasion.
One of the best ways to enjoy the 175 acres of this park is to maximize the distance you’ll cover by sticking to the trails along its outer edges. Once you leave the parking lot, go left along the Lakeside trail, named so because it borders Lake Pippen, part of the Akron Water Supply (visiting the lake is prohibited.) This will take you to the Hopewell Mound which provides a good view of the lake, and a historical marker embedded at the top explains the spot’s significance as an excavation point of a prehistoric culture that once flourished in Ohio.
From this grassy knoll, continue on the Lakeside trail until you come to the Eagle Trail, a short but lovely and secluded walk through the oaks and maples into the northern-most reaches of the park. From here, you’ll want to connect with the Ski Trail, going east and south, until you reach the tremendous pine trees and then the Forest Path. From the Forest Path, you won’t be far from your car.
Go to www.portageparkdistrict.org, and print out a map of Towner’s Woods before you go. Many of the trails are short — less than a mile — but unfortunately, some of the trail markers have deteriorated over time so it’s good to have a fixed reference to carry with you. Those familiar with the park know that even if you go there frequently, it takes just the slightest miscalculation to find yourself headed the wrong way.
Peppering the park are various structures that can provide a bit of respite from whatever activity brought you to the woods. These can be especially useful for equipment adjustments for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The Ski Hut and West Knoll Shelter, the furthest buildings from the parking lot, are great places to catch your breath and soak in the peaceful nature of your surroundings.
The trails within Towner’s Woods are entirely natural, dirt and tree debris surfaced. This means that you should wear your boots or a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting a little marked up, especially if it’s rained in the days leading up to your trip.
Towner’s Woods also provides access to The Portage Hike and Bike Trail. Going west on the trail will eventually take you into downtown Kent, and you won’t be far from further trail access to go north or onto the Kent State University campus. If you head east, the trail eventually dead-ends at Peck Road in Ravenna. Either way, sections of the trail are crushed limestone or paved with asphalt. Just remember: If you ride out from the park, you have to ride back! Dress appropriately for the weather, stay hydrated and maybe bring some snacks.
If you’re looking for tranquility, a trail for a good hike or a different place to ride your bike, Towner’s Woods is a rare spot.
Towner’s Woods can be found at 2296 Ravenna Road in Franklin Township. From State Route 43, turn east onto Ravenna Road and go two miles to the park entrance. For more information, contact the Portage Park District at 330-297-7728.
/Charles Parsons is a professional writer who lives with his cat. In addition to writing, he reads, indexes and edits manuscripts for a living. He is happy to be contributing to akronlife on a regular basis.